To say design is important in wearable technology is an understatement; design is everything in wearable technology. Why? Because people wear it and what people wear makes a statement about who they are. This week I caught up with two entrepreneurs making it possible to make that statement with fashionable jewelry.
These gentlemen are leading teams creating fashionable wearable technology with designs that surpass any other fitness trackers on the market. They are playing with a different set of rules. Rather than working with materials and designs that easily accommodate technology, they are integrating technology into elegant designs and using materials that are figuratively and literally hard to work with. Wireless signals cannot pass through precious metals; therefore, jewelry design involves tricks to making products that are beautiful and at the same time the design must allow for signals to be passed to and from a mobile device.
“We’ve been wearing jewelry for 75,000 years,” Gerald Wilmink, founder and CEO of WiseWear said. What people haven’t been doing for those same years is wearing sensors. Wearable technology entrepreneurs first attempts have been awkward and obtrusive resulting in gigantic rubber band like contraptions that have attempted to redefine what is acceptable to accessorize with. The approach, however, is not well received by all consumers. This is an opportunity for wearable technology to improve not just its capacity but its appeal. “The next wave is truly integrating the sensors and electronics into everyday wear,” said Wilmink whose WiseWear Socialite collection provides fashionable selections through three different bracelet designs, the Calder, the Duchess and the Kingston.
Once wearable technology is integrated into everyday wear, it also needs to be made available to markets that will consume it. “Career professionals are not going to buy a fashion accessory at an electronics store,” explained ViaWear Founder and CEO Ben Isaacson. ViaWear’s Tyia bracelet line includes several different styles, finishes and bands and will be distributed in locations where jewelry is sold. People who frequent jewelry stores and electronics stores aren’t typically the same demographic. “The fashion forward demographic is waking up to smart jewelry,” Isaacson explained.
There is a relatively untapped market with needs that can be satisfied through beautiful wearable technology accessories and Isaacson and Wilmink are not alone in creating fashionable wearables for these customers. Wearable fitness tracker maker Fitbit has partnered with luxury lifestyle brand Tory Burch to create Tory Burch for Fitbit. When announcing their line of smart watches and bands last fall Apple boldly claimed, “There’s an Apple Watch for everyone.” Others are also joining the race to make fashionable wearable technology in accessories and clothing.
Why make wearable technology fashionable? Isaacson explains, “The fashion side is a given. Nobody wants to wear something ugly anymore.” To this point Wilmink also agrees, “We make sensors and electronics invisible. You want the data but you don’t want to look like a nerd.”